lesbian herstory archives internship update #1

i was originally planning to document this experience in my journal, but by popular demand i will be writing updates online as frequently as possible. there’s so much here that i want to be able to share with lesbians from all over who may not be able to experience the archives firsthand. the lesbian herstory archives in brooklyn are seriously one of the most magical places i’ve ever set food inside of. when i first visited last year, i remember being completely lost and unsure of how to take it all in, and i believe i just spend an hour or two sitting on the floor reading a compilation of the writings of adrienne rich.

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some pics snapped by me/my girlfriend during a visit to the archives in 2016

despite my incredible timidity, that short awkward visit changed my perspective on a lot of things. so much of lesbian media, like dykes to watch out for by alison bechdel and the L word, portray close-knit lesbian communities. that was something i always longed for but didn’t believe actually could exist. the archives are the first place i’ve been where i feel like lesbian community is still alive and vibrant offline. it was a much needed reminder that we as a community are still here and are still building, sometimes even without much influence from modern queer cultural influences. in fact, i didn’t hear the word queer once during my time spent there. the space is primarily a radical feminist and lesbian prioritizing space.

not only are we still here, but were not going anywhere. i used to feel like lesbian community was left behind in the 70s, but its still right here. it will be here for lesbians that grow up after me.

my internship orientation only reinforced my excitement and joy for the opportunity. my supervisor is one of the most delightful women i’ve ever met, and i immediately felt enveloped into so much more than i could imagine. she told me about so much in those short two hours, from stories of the dykes on bikes nyc chapter rolling up in formation to volunteer at the archives, to horror stories of cointelpro. it was a lot to take in, theres so much more history that i need to learn.

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some pics i took during the book sale- including vintage lesbian pulp fiction novels

while im not officially starting regular hours until july, i did go down to help out at the annual book sale on june 10th. after a crazy morning involving a two hour train delay from new haven, i got there just in time for everything to be finished until it was time to clean up. still, i loved seeing everyone who came into the book sale. i loved realizing how many people like me there are in the world. i bought sinister wisdom issue #45 for my growing collection of the literary magazine. then i put all the leftover books in boxes and nearly died from wiping out on the stairs when putting them away (ten days later i still gave some gnarly bruises). i came home so exhausted but so full of love and joy.

so in closing i want to thank everyone who got me here. the lesbians older than me who built this place and kept it going, the lesbians in my online community who helped me embrace myself, my internship supervisor who probably wouldn’t want to be named publicly, and becca and olivia for reading my cover letter and encouraging me to send it. thank you all! x

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